Since the first season, Ramin Djawadi has composed the music for “Game of Thrones” and created the epic tunes, including the iconic theme song, heard over the series’ most memorable moments. With the series finished, he talked with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 about his experience on the show and an upcoming 20-city “Game of Thrones” live concert tour.
“I have to admit I’m still in denial,” Djawadi said. “I feel like it’s not over yet. I can’t let go. I never expected this to be such a success in that it would have such an impact on people around the world. It’s been an incredible journey. I’m honored to just have been part of this.”
The HBO gig won Djawadi an Emmy for outstanding music composition for a series in 2018, along with two other nominations and a Grammy nod through the show’s eight seasons. To the jealousy of millions of diehard fans, he got to know the story in advance, but accidentally spoiling the plot wasn’t a challenge for the composer, who said that foreknowledge challenged him to outdo himself year after year.
“I’ll walk around thinking about ‘How am I going to write music to this?’ and putting myself under the pressure of ‘How can I beat myself from the previous season? How can I expand the themes?'” he said.
One of his favorite pieces debuted in the final minutes of the Battle of Winterfell in the third episode of the final season, “The Long Night.” The tune, appropriately called “The Night King,” started with a light piano melody over the chaotic destruction of the White Walkers’ attack on Winterfell and lasted until the shocking ending.
“In the episode, there is so much violence going on for so long we felt that it was a great way to kind of put the brakes on, reset, and start soft and just play it. It’s all over now, this is it,” he said.
Djawadi also revealed it was only the second time in the history of “Game of Thrones” that the show used a piano. The other time was for the piece “The Light of the Seven” in “The Winds of Winter,” the season 6 finale. In a similar sequence there, piano was used to overlay Cersei’s evil plot to blow up the Great Sept in King’s Landing and everyone inside.
The “Game of Thrones” Live Concert Experience first toured in 2017, playing some of the greatest hits of the series for audiences in the U.S. and around the world. With the show finally done, Djawadi can add songs from the final season and new rearrangements for the upcoming tour.
“It’s really for two kinds of people,” said the scorer. “It’s the super-fans that want to come and just relive the show and re-enjoy all their favorite highlights from the show. But then … if there are still a few people in the world that haven’t seen the show, they can come see the concert and get a quick crash course now of the entire seasons 1-8,” he said.
The 20-city fall tour begins on Sept. 5 in Syracuse, NY and wraps up with a stop Oct. 5 at the Hollywood Bowl.